A number of signs, albeit not obviously linked to one another, together give the impression that Tunisia is a country preparing for a near future rich in uncertainty. Last night, after insistent reports on social networking sites close to the country's Islamist circles, representatives of the UGTT, Tunisia's most powerful centralised trade union, barricaded themselves inside their offices in Tunis and in other regions, in expectation of an attack by Ennahdha party activists. The attack did not materialise, most likely because police intervened after the alarm was signalled, surrounding entire buildings for the duration of the night. The reason for the tension, the Islamist party's activists say, is that the UGTT's current battles for the renewal of national contracts in the sector is causing problems for the government, and therefore for Ennahdha, the hard core of the executive.
Not everyone believes that the tension has been stirred up by senior officials within the party, but it is possible that some of them were aware of the potential trouble and did nothing to stop some of the rowdier elements of the party's support. The signs were multiplying so quickly that it was not to fear trouble, some say, as it appears clear that the security forces do not have the tools nor the guidelines needed to intervene. It is also important to note the words of the secretary of the biggest security force union, who has claimed that if clear orders were given, police would need only 48 hours to take off the streets those who attack the country's integrity and sovereignty every day. But this "readiness" appears destined to remain on paper, as the government seems unable to act, even though the Foreign Ministry has sent out warnings to Salafists, who continue to go about their actions untroubled.
A few hours, the "Salafist police", as the slogan on t-shirts worn by around thirty youths read, made their appearance in a Tunis suburb. The young men, all of them sporting beards, marched through the streets threatening bar owners and girls who were not wearing the niqab. Salafists were also behind the attack on a journalist from an economics website outside a metro station, and subsequently visited the head of a local police station to threaten him of consequences if he dared to arrest any of the number. The fever pitch being reached in Tunisia's daily life is fuelled by other reports spreading like wildfire, such as the one claiming that Ennahdha is training young men (up to 10,000 according to some rumours) ahead of a potential physical confrontation with remnants of the dictatorship. In some areas of the country's major cities, meanwhile, some people are convinced that citizens are organising themselves in self-defence militias ahead of what they see as a war sure to be unleashed by the Salafists. (ANSAmed).